Concluding our coverage of eM+C's All About eMail Virtual Conference & Expo, this week in the final part of this three-part series focusing on a session titled "Making Sense of E-mail Metrics," we recap the presentation of Jeff Mills, vice president of products at eROI, an interactive and e-mail marketing agency.
(To register for on-demand access to the conference, which is available until May 17, click here. For part one of this series, which looks at the presentation given by Al DiGuido, CEO of Zeta Interactive, an interactive marketing agency, click here. And for part two, which reviews the presentation of Time's Marketing Operations Director Ernie Vickroy, click here.)
Mills began his presentation by citing the four most commonly overlooked, yet valuable, metrics that e-mail marketers bypass when evaluating the effectiveness of their campaigns. He followed his list with some case studies to show how valuable these metrics can be.
1. Personalization of “from” lines versus a standard company “from” line.
2. Creating the whole experience, beginning to end, from the customer touchpoints ― delivery through conversion.
3. Clicks as a percentage of opens. What's the ratio between the two, and what does that mean?
4. List composition. Who's on your list? What domains do they come from, and what ISPs do they use? What effect does this have on deliverability from a rendering perspective?
To prove the value of metric 1, Mills provided the results of a recent single-variant A/B split test he conducted, with that single variant being the name in the "from" line. The same e-mail was sent to two groups; one received it with a personalized "from" line, the other a "from" line containing the company's name.
The results: an 11 percent increase in the campaign's open rates when the "from" line was personalized.
“'From' lines and subject lines have a great impact in getting a campaign opened,” Mills said. “They help build trust with the recipient.” In fact, he added that in this example, testing "from" lines proved to be much more powerful than testing subject lines based on user behavior and default e-mail client settings.
Smithsonian case study
To illustrate the importance of metric 2, Mills detailed a recent test with Smithsonian magazine. Looking to increase subscriptions, Smithsonian frequently e-mailed consumers and was satisfied with its e-mail's performance. In fact, its conversion rate had never been beaten by a test creative. The control e-mail served an older audience and was very conservative in its design ― Web text throughout, simple creative, etc.
An A/B split test was conducted. One group received the control e-mail and landing page; the other group received the redesigned e-mail and landing page ― which had a darker background, multiple calls to action, and an experience focused on the Smithsonian brand both in the consumers' inboxes and Web browsers.
The results: The redesigned e-mail and landing page garnered 11 percent higher open rates and a 40.5 percent higher conversion rate.
“A more branded experience from beginning to end, including the landing page, had a great impact on gaining more subscriptions,” Mills noted.
More than just open rates
With the emergence of image blocking and consumers receiving e-mails via mobile phone, Mills feels open rates are no longer “a true indication of how well an e-mail performs in terms of reach."
To combat this, Mills recommended looking at the quality of your e-mail's design. What terms are you using? How are your calls to action positioned? Test what your e-mail looks like with images on versus images off.
To get a more realistic view of your true open rate, track the percentage of contacts who block images, Mills said. To do this, determine what percentage of people have clicked but aren't registering as opens; this gives you a better idea of what percentage of your list blocks images.
Examining list composition
Mills listed the following key questions for evaluating your list to improve its deliverability:
- What ISPs do your contacts use most frequently?
- Do you know what e-mail clients to code for? They don't render the same, Mills said, citing where preview panes are located as an example.
- What percentage of your list checks e-mail at work versus home? Yahoo users are more likely to check e-mail after hours than a company domain address.
- Where's your deliverability focused? It should be the larger ISPs that make up your list, Mills said.
Mills’ rule of thumb for B-to-C lists: Code your e-mail for the top 85 percent of your domains.
Top five rankings
Mills closed the session by ranking five elements of e-mail marketing by order of importance:
- Deliverability. “If you don't get into the inbox, the rest doesn't matter,” he said. Metrics to track: bounce rate, inbox versus bulk box delivery.
- "From" line. “Users typically scan by 'from' name as the primary ID of e-mail sender,” Mills noted. Metrics to track: open rate, complaint rate (feedback loops), bounce rate.
- Subject line. This provides the recipient a sense of the e-mail's content. Metrics to track: open, clickthrough and bounce rates.
- Design. “Is your design effectively taking people to the actions you want them to?” Mills asked. Metrics to track: clicks, clicks as a percentage of opens, click distribution.
- Landing page/site experience. The process must be seamless; it must feel right, and you must drop them off in the right place, Mills said. Metrics to track: site visits, visit depth (i.e., the number of page views), conversion rate.